Monday, March 12, 2012


The link above is a description of the events the collectively make up the Russian celebration of Maslenitsa. Maslenitsa is a Russian Orthodox holiday similar to Mardi Gras. Like most Christian Holidays it has origins in a pagan celebration of the end of winter. The holiday is a weeklong celebration that is meant to be the last celebration before the horror that is Orthodox Lent. As soon as Maslenitsa ends, Religious Russians (of which there still are a few) must fast and give up meat, dairy, and fish for forty days.

However, they have a week to go crazy beforehand, and so they do with pancakes, and other traditional Russian foods. Of which, one Russian food, Blin is a traditional staple. Blin is essentially a crepe, and for all those that want to make it here is a fun recipe:

2/3 cup warm milk
½ tsp honey
1 pkt dry yeast
2 tbl melted butter, cooled
½ cup flour, plus 2 tbl flour
1/4-cup-buckwheat flour
1 pch salt
2 eggs, whisked together
1 potato, cut in half
vegetable oil or butter for frying

Preparation: Combine milk, honey and yeast in a medium bowl. Whisk together and let stand until foamy. Stir in cooled butter. In a separate bowl combine the flours, salt and baking powder. Make an indentation in the center of the dry mixture and stir in liquid mixture, slowly, until blended. Without stirring vigorously, blend in whisked eggs just until combined. Cover and let rise at room temperature for about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in volume.

Cooking: Heat a thick-bottomed skillet (or a blini, crepe, or plett pan) over medium-high heat. Dip the halved potato in oil, or coat with butter and grease the pan lightly (this is the traditional way, a paper towel or oil brush may also be used). Pour some batter in the pan. Some chefs use a special "blini roller" to spread the batter evenly and paper-thin, otherwise, move the pan while pouring to help spread the batter, or make very small bliny, which will be able to spread themselves (use about 1 tbl.). When the blin is golden brown on its underside (should happen in under 1 minute), flip over and brown the other side. Repeat.

Presentation: Blini are remarkably versatile and may be served with nearly anything from caviar to salmon to cottage cheese to sour cream to jam to honey. Place your filling in the center of the blin. For larger blin, fold once in half, then thrice lengthwise to form a small triangle.

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